WRC Report on Crisis at Jerzees de Honduras

To:Primary Contacts, WRC Affiliate Colleges and Universities
From:Scott Nova
Date:November 7, 2008
Re:WRC Report on Crisis at Jerzees de Honduras

Please find here the WRC’s report concerning Russell Corporation’s decision to close its Jerzees de Honduras manufacturing plant in Choloma, Honduras.

As the report outlines, there is overwhelming evidence, based on credible worker testimony and other sources, that Russell’s hostility to workers’ exercise of their associational rights played a significant role in the decision to close the Jerzees de Honduras factory and terminate the factory’s workers. This evidence includes:

  • the timing of the closure announcement
  • numerous threats by management personnel in recent months that the factory would close because of the union
  • numerous statements by management personnel after the closure announcement that the union was the cause
  • the company’s ongoing hostile attitude and hostile acts toward the workers’ union during the course of this year

As discussed in the report, Russell’s claim that economic factors are the sole reason for the closure is belied by the company’s extensive prior record of using false claims of economic justification to try to hide anti-union dismissals — including previous dismissals of some of these same workers, which were reversed only under pressure from universities.

The only adequate remedy for this severe violation of university codes of conduct is the reversal of the closure decision and this is the course of action we recommend. If Russell fails to take corrective action, irreparable harm will be done not only to the 1,800 workers at Jerzees de Honduras, but to workers throughout Russell’s supply chain and throughout the university logo apparel sector in Honduras and the broader Central American region. This retaliatory closure will teach an unmistakable lesson to workers: that efforts to exercise basic labor rights are futile and that codes of conduct offer only false hope — because even where progress is achieved through outside pressure, workers will inevitably suffer in the end.

We urge universities that have relationships with Russell to communicate with the company and urge that the recommended remedial action be taken without delay. In the case of an announced closure, the chances of reversing the process are greatest now, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss this information further.

Scott Nova
Worker Rights Consortium
5 Thomas Circle NW
Washington DC 20005
ph 202 387 4884
fax 202 387 3292
[email protected]